Increasing scholarships for foreign students

What is going on in Canada that foreign students have become more desirable than Canadian students whose extended families have been contributing to the Canadian economy for decades or longer. Yes, we know that international students spend oodles of money while they are here. But so what? Foreign students are just getting what they are paying for. 

I mean, shouldn’t Canadians — be they long time residents or landed immigrants — deserve first consideration when it comes to handing out taxpayers dollars? Well, I guess in this case, actions speak every bit as loud as words.

This week, for example, the Conservative appointed “Canadian International Education Strategy” advisory panel released a report  (see also this Google search page) recommending there be a huge increase in foreign student scholarships in the coming years. Why you ask?  As the answer to Canadian innovation and investment and future job shortages.  Are we to assume, then, that ordinary Canadians are not the answer?

Well, it seems that the federal committee is not the only one gearing up for an increase in foreign students. Check out this Macleans article.  The governments in B.C., Nova Scotia and Ontario are leading the same kind of charge.  In fact, the Dalton McGuinty government is on record for suggesting $40,000 scholarships for international graduate students.

Well, hello? Am I missing something here? Whether the government is Conservative, Liberal or NDP, the future of Canadian jobs does not seem to lie with our children and grandchildren, but with foreign children and grandchildren. And, no I am not referring to landed immigrants. To my mind, they are already Canadian. I am talking about students who will stay here three or four years, spend their money while they are here and then they leave and get a job in their own country — where they will pay taxes.

Yes, it is nice to have foreign students in our midst. As a former university professor, I always enjoyed their presence in my courses, or for thesis supervision, because they usually offered a unique perspective.  As I said in my last paragraph, they certainly contribute to local economies. Of course, while they are in Canada, they also add to the multicultural mosaic.

However, why are Canada’s governments looking to foreign students for innovation and future job shortages? And, why are they doing that at the same time they are cutting scholarships for Canadian students?

For example, as an article in “Arthur (Trent University’s student newspaper) states, the McGuinty Liberals will be cutting the Ontario Work Study Program. It is a program that allows students on Ontario Works (usually single parents) to attend university while working and getting experience in a part-time job. Meaning, the Ontario government is cutting the very program that would be a way out of the welfare trap.

Anyway, back to the latest federal report. Does the International Education Committee not realize how bad it sounds to hint that there are so few top students in Canada, universities are going to have to go abroad to find them? As well, do they not have a clue that provinces that are cutting funding for domestic student scholarships should not be “co-funding” them for foreign students who are going to leave the country once they graduate?

In my opinion, there is a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here. On the one hand, the federal and provincial governments make significant financial investments in foreign students allowing them to graduate from innovative programs and ready to fill anticipated job shortages.  On the other hand, those same governments reduce or cut scholarships that would benefit needy and middle class Canadian students with the result that there are not enough Canadians to fill the anticipated job shortages.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

15 thoughts on “Increasing scholarships for foreign students

  1. A university degree has been so devalued in the last 30 years does it really matter? If you want a job go to community college first. Now that universities have gotten their collective heads out of their asses and reccognized college degrees there is no reason not to go to CC first, get a job, then upgrade if needed or desired. Better yet get a trade. You will make more money in most fields anyways. Also it could be said that educating foreign students here is a form of foreign aid. If they go back home and use their education to improve their country then more bang for the buck. I have seen far too many people with university degrees that don’t know jack. Universities seem to be more degree factories these days then true educational institutions. Just my opinion.

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  2. This has been a long-running issue, especially in Ontario. It started, perhaps, with the former 5 vs. 4 year streaming split of high school students into eligible vs. forbidden regular University Admittance. It also sweeps into a form of Feminization which proactively discourages our male population from continuing with education.
    It isn’t surprising to then find out that it was the U. of Toronto football which played out to a 2-78 record across 10 full seasons(!) from 1998-2007. Or that it would be Toronto’s other University (York) before them that set a previous consecutive longest losing streak.
    It is also evident when anyone looks into the Teachers’ Pension owned MLSE’s (until very recently) near 100% non-Ontario big league hiring and concurrent Ontario-born minor league sabotage practice throughout its hockey ranks.
    I got into a discussion of this topic – as also it relates to our self-created NEED of a skilled immigrated workforce: partly found here, http://classicquarters.blogspot.ca/2011/05/casino-theory.html

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  3. WTF — All my grandchildren either are in a college program or graduated in a trade. And, those who did are either self-employed or well-employed. So, I concur partly. Obviously only partly since I have a Ph.D. There is room for both university and college. My point is that if we have all that extra money to spend on scholarships, we should spend it on Canadian young people. The countries they want to recruit students from are not in need of foreign aid, such as China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil.

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  4. I’m not really sure where you are coming from CQ in relation to this issue — the 4 yr OSSD, the Teacher’s Pension Board, Football? All interesting topics for sure.

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  5. OMMAG — There is that to it. The thing is, the issue is priorities. If there is enough money to pay huge bonuses for public servants …….

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  6. My general point is that there was only two ways to build up the skilled immigrated workforce (and student-force). Either they improve their education to match (and exceed), or existing Cdns lower ours and therefore create the need. There is a difference to welcoming immigration and foreign students vs. needing same. This was so long entrenched as an unspoken policy that each of the illustrations I shared are merely the ongoing symptons of that continuing restrictiveness mindset against local youth. While young women were conversely being encourged, it was young males who – over decades – took the brunt of this anti-local educational bias.
    My casino theory definition is when a game, or an educational system, is engineered to allow just enough randomly individual successes to convince everyone else – who then lose – to buy in.
    If we now have “so few top students in Canada” – male, female, multi-cultural etc., it is because our overall population had caught onto this game’s improbable long odds.

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  7. CQ — Interesting and I certainly see your point. There is also the issue of not striving for excellence. The teachers’ unions, for example, have said in the past they want everyone treated the same. So, mediocrity becomes the norm. We see that in school sports where everyone now wins a game or a ribbon. Our graduates are not going to be able to compete with those foreign students who know what real competition is, male or female.

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  8. This had been going on for years — I did not finish my PhD due to lack of funding despite great grades. All the internal support in the department was targeted to foreign students and that was 15 years ago. Now that the province is doing it is not surprising. The system was broken for decades now.

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  9. That you did’t finish your Ph.D program Gerry is most unfortunate Gerry. It is 25 years for me at U of T (OISE). Then, in the 80s, there was some department support, either in terms of a very modest scholarship or assistantships . But, it was never enough to manage without some kind of outside part-time job. I was able to get through because I taught my allowed 16 hrs a week at a Niagara university. I was married and of course my husband supported in every way he could. The good thing was that I lived within the 100KM acceptable and still be in “residence” so didn’t have to live in expensive Toronto. I taught two courses if I remember right.

    Frankly, I didn’t know anyone in my department in a Ph.D program who wasn’t working outside the department. I also don’t recall a lot of foreign students. There were definitely a few and I got the impression they were eligible for the same scholarships or assistantships as I was — which ticked me off at the time because that was money that could have been spread around to domestic graduate students.

    Which is why I was so angry when McGuinty suggested paying foreign grad students $40,000 a year. Can you imagine? Even today, domestic grad students average $10,000 between scholarships and working assistantships combined.

    Yes, it’s all about politics.

    [Edited to remove a couple of paragraphs that were private recommendations to Gerry should he ever decide to finish his Ph.D.

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  10. Gerry, even though you are anonymous, I removed the couple of paragraphs about how you could complete your Ph.D now if you wanted to as I felt that information is somewhat private.

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  11. Here is the point I believe.

    They do not want to drive out Canadian or Ontario born students in the process.

    The governments are being encouraged to build huge new capacity into the universities by expanding them and paying for all of the expansion and new human resources by charging foreign students MORE than the cost of all of this expansion. This PROFIT from foreign students (if there is really a profit in the public sector) lets call it revenue collected beyond expenses, will then be used to enhance facilities for all students or hold down tuition explosions or attract high level faculty or some of all of the above.

    In short, the governments are being ‘encouraged’ to make a profit on foreign students for the benefit of all.

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  12. Doug, In terms of making money for the benefit of all, that could only be true if provincial or federal governments do not give huge foreign student scholarships. When McGuinty suggested $40,000 a year during the last election, that was crazy. In terms of undergrad, which is what this federal report is about, few Canadian students get scholarships. Even student loans are iffy since you have to count parent income until you are 22.

    Plus, my understanding, at least up to the early 2000s, VISA tuitions were just what the actual cost of tuition is, minus the provincial subsidy. So, how is anyone making money on that? They are just breaking even.

    By the way, has your parntern’s school gone out of business? I was looking for it the other day to tell someone about it. If not, please send me the URL via my Contact Form. Be assured, I will not be writing about it here.

    As many know, I have stepped back from partisan writing. Now, I just criticize (or praise) every political party or government. 😉

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  13. And another one from the Canadian Bureau of International Education who thinks increasing foreign students is great for Canadians. I still fail to see how that can benefit. Exchanges, yes. But, average students. I recently helped a family member do her OSAP application. The criteria makes sure few qualify for much even when parents can’t contribute more than room and board. And, that is only a loan. So, I am not seeing this as a win win.

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